Chris Rock Reveals He’s in Therapy to Help Manage a Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Chris Rock Reveals He’s in Therapy to Help Manage a Nonverbal Learning Disorder
Comedian Chris Rock has been working through childhood trauma and other personal issues recently, he said in a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter.. Part of that includes a fair amount of therapy to help him with those issues—as well as a newly diagnosed learning disorder.

After a friend suggested Rock might have Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, he went in for nine hours of cognitive testing, he said in the interview. After that Rock was diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD), which affects his ability to read nonverbal social cues, he explained.

“And all I understand are the words,” he said, which sometimes causes him to take things too literally and to think in an all-or-nothing mindset. “By the way, all of those things are really great for writing jokes,” Rock says. “They’re just not great for one-on-one relationships.” 

He’s now doing seven hours of therapy a week to manage his NVLD—and is realizing just how much of an impact the condition has had on him in his life. “I’d always just chalked it up to being famous,” he explains. “Anytime someone would respond to me in a negative way, I’d think, Whatever, they’re responding to something that has to do with who they think I am. Now I’m realizing it was me. A lot of it was me.”

Learning disorders, including NVLD, affect the way people process information. Although many people with learning disorders are diagnosed in childhood, that’s not the case for everyone. And even among those who are diagnosed as kids, it’s not unusual for them to go undiagnosed and deal with the symptoms—like difficulty reading, writing, and interpreting social cues—on their own for a while before getting tested, the Mayo Clinic says. However, it’s important to recognize that having NVLD or any learning disorder is not a sign of low intelligence.

In addition to having difficulties with processing nonverbal social cues, those with NVLD might also experience a range of other symptoms, including challenges in spatial awareness, motor skills, reading comprehension, organizational skills, and adapting to new situations, the NVLD Project explains. People with the disorder also often have particular strengths in vocabulary and verbal memory.

The right strategies to manage NVLD depend on the person’s specific set of symptoms and challenges, as well as their age. If a child is having trouble with reading or math, for instance, tutoring or specialized therapy in those areas may be helpful, the Mayo Clinic says. Or if the symptoms of NVLD are leading to mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, medication may be an option as well.

Although learning disorders are often diagnosed in childhood when schoolwork starts to become a challenge, the symptoms are usually lifelong and can be subtle. That means it’s possible to be diagnosed as an adult as well. If you’ve always struggled with one area of school or work or notice social behaviors that interfere with your work or relationships, it may be worth talking to your doctor about getting screened.

Related:

  • Hiring a Coach for My ADHD Transformed My Life and Productivity

  • Here’s What Reading Is Like When You Have Dyslexia

  • 12 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going to College with a Disability or Chronic Illness

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